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Looking for a change to spark his team’s offense, Minnesota State coach Troy Jutting shuffled his lines a bit. The move put center Michael Dorr with wingers Kael Mouillierat and Tyler Pitlick together on MSU’s third line.
That line scored back-to-back goals that separated the Mavericks from the Rochester Institute of Technology in a 6-1 win over the Tigers Friday at the Verizon Wireless Center.
“They’re three skilled kids who’ve scored their whole lives, so they’re going to need to do that for us,” said Jutting, whose team scored six even-strength goals Saturday. “We’ve been struggling to score goals, so we had to make some changes.”
The Mavericks scored just two goals in two games against Nebraska-Omaha Dec. 18-19, sparking the lineup adjustments to produce more offense. Jutting moved Mouillierat (MSU’s active career leading scorer) down a line and Dorr (a transfer from Minnesota) up one to skate with Pitlick (a finalist for the U.S. Under-20 team).
“It’s nice to play with some of the more offensive guys,” said Dorr, who was not eligible to play for MSU before Dec. 12 after transferring from Minnesota. He has recorded two goals and two assists in four games.
The move worked. Pitlick walked in alone and backhanded one past RIT goaltender Jared DeMichiel to give the Mavericks a 3-0 lead late in the second period.
“I like playing with (Dorr and Mouillierat); they’re fast and they get the puck down in the corner and get it out front,” Pitlick said. “I think we’re going to start scoring a lot more than we have been lately.”
Dorr capitalized on a mistake by DeMichiel in the third when DeMichiel played the puck behind the net and left it there for a teammate, but Dorr was first to pick it up as he circled around the net and backhanded it to make it 4-0.
“They created a lot of chances to score,” Jutting said. “I thought that line played very well tonight.”
Dorr added, “We compliment each other and that’s a good thing. We do a good job moving the puck down low and attacking the net.”
After the Mavericks saw two of their shots ring off the post and other scoring opportunities miss in the first period, MSU scored its first goal on a bit of a fluke. Nearing the final two minutes of the first period, MSU’s Rylan Galiardi won the draw at neutral ice back to Nick Canzanello, who carried the puck across the line and sent a backhand from the right circle through traffic. The puck caromed off an RIT defender past DeMichiel at 17:54 of the first period.
MSU also got production from its top line led by Jerad Stewart, who scored when he carried the puck into the zone and buried it from the top of the right circle over DeMichiel’s left shoulder at 14:47 of the second period. Stewart leads MSU in points (18) and goals (11).
“It’s beautiful; Jerad has put his time and effort in,” Jutting said. “It’s nice to see (Stewart) getting rewarded this year.”
Stewart and Galiardi added third period goals after Stevan Matic put the Tigers on the board at 6:41 in the third with assists by Brent Alexin and Adam Hartley.
Phil Cook played another stellar night in goal for the Mavericks, stopping 30 shots and improving his goals against average to 1.11 and his save percentage to .960.
“Phil was very good again tonight,” Jutting said. “I felt bad for him on the goal we gave up. There was too much time and space as (RIT) came across the blue line. He made the saves he needed to make.”
DeMichiel made 26 saves for RIT. MSU and RIT will conclude the non-conference series at 7:37 p.m. Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Center.
“In college hockey, you don’t see many games where you score six goals,” Jutting said. “We did a good job creating and a better job finishing off than we have been.”